Tauck Cruise Lines hosted a cocktail reception and dinner at our hotel in Milan on Saturday night. There were 138 attendees. These are our fellow travelers for our 11 day tour. My goodness this is a lot of really old white people. The Tauck staff introduced themselves. The third speaker was the rookie Brian. He has only been with Tauck for one year. He started by saying “I have bad news and not much good news.” Well that leaves a lot to interpretation. He advised the Rhine River was so low that the riverboats could not move. They were stuck in whatever port they last disembarked. He continued by stating it was not safe to cruise when the water level is this low due to numerous unexploded WW II bombs that still litter the river bed. Who could argue that logic. The current plan is “there is no plan but we are working on it.” It is most likely that we will take buses to various yet to be determined locations. The locations are undetermined because there are no hotel rooms available in the towns we had planned to visit. Rest assured our crack staff is working overtime to come up with an alternate travel plan. Enjoy your dinner and we will advise you of your options tomorrow. Grumble, grumble could be heard throughout the room. Perhaps Brian could have waited until dessert to share the news so we could have at least enjoyed our dinner.
On Sunday we boarded the bus at 9:00 am for the short trip to the Duomo Square. Tauck arranged a guided tour. Technology has improved to the point that everyone gets a headset to listen to the tour guide. You can wander off and still hear the exciting details of every blade of grass. Our little group was 22 people and we toured area around the Duomo cathedral. Our tour guide pointed out the golden statue on the top of the cathedral. She advised that during WWII the statue was covered with a wool blanket so it would not gleam in the sun and draw the attention of enemy bomber planes.
The advantage of the headsets allowed Priscilla to take a seat and still hear the tour guide.
The shopping mall has a glass ceiling and mosaic floor. One of the mosaics is a coat of arms of a bull. It is said if you spin around on the bulls balls you will have good luck. Yes, I spun around. Not surprising there is a divot where all the shoe heals have spun over the years.
This coat of arms is a little creepy. It is a snake with the head of a dragon eating a child.
Bicycles are a popular form of transportation in Milan. The bicycle sharing program features electric assist bicycles. You can take a bicycle and return it to same location or drop it off at a different location.
At 7:00 pm we boarded a bus and drove to the convent of Santa Maria Della Gracie to view the painting of the Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci spent three years painting this mural from 1595 until 1598. One story goes that a Bishop from the monastery complained to Leonardo about the delay, enraging him. Leonardo wrote to the head of the monastery, explaining he had been struggling to find the perfect villainous face for Judas, and that if he could not find a face corresponding with what he had in mind, he would use the features of the Bishop who complained.
During WWII a bomb was dropped close enough to the painting that the east wall next to it collapsed. If you look closely at the center of the mural you will see the top of a door. The monks installed a door into the wall under the mural and cut off Christ’s legs under the table.
This is a door cut into the mural The Last Supper
We will soon learn our fate for the remainder of the trip.